Daan Laméris

Research themes

  • Emotions
  • Primatology
  • Comparative animal psychology
  • Welfare


Currently, I work as a postdoctoral researcher for the University of California, Los Angeles (USA), under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Erica Cartmill. At the same time, I remain affiliated with the Antwerp ZOO Centre for Research and Conservation, where I research positive emotions and physical/social cognition.

Research interests

My research focuses on the role of emotions in the daily lives of animals, primarily working with primates. To do this, I utilize various techniques including behavioral observations, hormone analyses, and conduct cognitive research using touchscreen and eye-tracking technology. Through this research, I aim to gain insights into the emotional lives of primates and simultaneously find ways to enhance their welfare in zoos.

Brief biography

I've been working with apes for a long time. During my high school years, I worked as an animal caretaker at Apenheul (Netherlands) and worked with orphaned orangutans and other local fauna in Indonesia. During my master's in Behavioral Ecology at Utrecht University, I went to Cameroon for my internship to study the effect of conservation activities on large mammals with Projet Grands Singes (PGS). Additionally, through Leiden University, I conducted touchscreen research with orangutans to examine which emotions capture their attention.

Before starting my PhD, I worked as a research assistant through Leiden University on a field study of wild chimpanzee behavior in Rwanda. For my PhD, conducted through the University of Antwerp and the Antwerp ZOO Centre for Research and Conservation, I researched various cognitive, behavioral, and welfare components of emotions in bonobos. I set up touchscreen research with bonobos at Planckendael ZOO for this purpose.

During my current postdoc position at the University of California, I continue research with bonobos at Planckendael, focusing more on how positive emotions influence different cognitive functions and play a role in sociality. I also collaborate with the Indianapolis Zoo (USA) where we conduct research with chimpanzees. Additionally, in collaboration with researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, we are developing a game for bonobos where they have to use virtual tools to get a better idea of how bonobos use such tools.

Key publications

Laméris, D. W., Staes, N., Salas, M., Matthyssen, S., Verspeek, J., & Stevens, J. M. G. (2021). The influence of sex, rearing history, and personality on abnormal behaviour in zoo-housed bonobos (Pan paniscus). Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 234, 105178. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.applanim.2020.105178

Laméris, D. W., Tagg, N., Kuenbou, J. K., Sterck, E. H. M., & Willie, J. (2020). Drivers affecting mammal community structure and functional diversity under varied conservation efforts in a tropical rainforest in Cameroon. Animal Conservation, 23(2), 182–191. https://doi.org/10.1111/acv.12526

Laméris, D. W., van Berlo, E., Roth, T. S., & Kret, M. E. (2022). No Evidence for Biased Attention Towards Emotional Scenes in Bornean Orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus). Affective Science, 3(4), 772–782. https://doi.org/10.1007/s42761-022-00158-x

Laméris, D. W., van Berlo, E., Sterck, E. H. M., Bionda, T., & Kret, M. E. (2020). Low relationship quality predicts scratch contagion during tense situations in orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus). American Journal of Primatology, 82(7). https://doi.org/10.1002/ajp.23138

Laméris, D. W., Verspeek, J., Depoortere, A., Plessers, L., & Salas, M. (2021). Effects of Enclosure and Environmental Enrichment on the Behaviour of Ring-Tailed Lemurs (Lemur catta). Journal of Zoological and Botanical Gardens, 2(2), 164–173. https://doi.org/10.3390/jzbg2020012

Laméris, D. W., Verspeek, J., Eens, M., & Stevens, J. M. G. (2022). Social and nonsocial stimuli alter the performance of bonobos during a pictorial emotional Stroop task. American Journal of Primatology, 84(2), e23356. https://doi.org/10.1002/ajp.23356

Laméris, D. W., Verspeek, J., Salas, M., Staes, N., Torfs, J. R. R., Eens, M., & Stevens, J. M. G. (2022). Evaluating Self-Directed Behaviours and Their Association with Emotional Arousal across Two Cognitive Tasks in Bonobos (Pan paniscus). Animals, 12(21), 3002. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani12213002

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